How Comics Work

I’ve never been a big Dave Gibbons fan. I’ve read, liked and appreciated his work, growing up with 2000AD through WATCHMEN and GIVE ME LIBERTY amongst many other marvels, but to me he’s always been like the Kubrick of comics: precise and magnificent, but also somewhat cold and aloof. I like squiggly lines and minor mistakes, more organic and free flowing styles over realism and accuracy. Thus Gibbons’ work has always rather eluded me; it’s one of the reasons WATCHMEN wasn’t the big deal that DARK KNIGHT RETURNS with its fuzzy blobs of stylized ink was.

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ALACK SINNER: AGE OF INNOCENCE from IDW’s EuroComics is a contender for the best book of the year. This brick collects within its 400 or so pages several stories featuring the titular private eye interacting with New York City and its denizens in the unwashed ’70s.

For me personally, this book is what the first three Ramones albums, or Scorsese’s TAXI DRIVER or Barry Shear’s ACROSS 110th STREET, the pages of PUNK magazine, the novels of Chester Himes or Sol Yurick, and all those other quintessentially grubby but vital New York works of art are.

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Hook Jaw: Volume 1

Don’t know if you got the memo, but sharks are the new zombies. This summer alone, 47 METERS DOWN made a box-office killing; Syfy unleashed a fifth SHARKNADO movie; and, as with every year before this one, my co-workers would not STFU about Discovery’s “Shark Week” programming. More appropriate to this website, Chris Jameson took up the Peter Benchley torch with the paperback thriller SHARK ISLAND, and now, Titan Comics gives us HOOK JAW: VOLUME 1.

No time like the present to resurrect it. Yes, it’s a revival — or “reboot,” as the cool kids say — of 1970s British comic-magazine ACTION’s controversial finned star, who only existed to make bank off Steven Spielberg’s monster hit JAWS.

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EURO COMICS ROUNDUP >> Weapons of Choice

With Luc Besson’s VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS still making headlines, there’s no better time to catch up with the latest volumes in the series. We’ve covered every volume here, in fact my first review for Bookgasm was the first Cinebook release of the series, back in 2010. Love or hate the film, the comics are glorious, arguably the greatest science fiction series ever published. And even if you don’t agree with my opinion, you’d have difficulty arguing against it considering the influence the series has had over popular culture, which goes, far beyond the comics pages. 

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Following up their fabulous SPANISH FEVER anthology/sampler package, Fantagraphics now unleashes further modern treasures from the vibrant Spanish comics scene. THE LADIES-IN-WAITING continues the current trend of comics biographies, taking aim at one specific painting and the man who painted it: “Las Meninas” by Diego Velazquez, from 1656.

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The fifth stand-alone volume of Cinebook’s Marquis of Anaon series, THE CHAMBER OF CHEOPS, delivers a fabulously satisfying final adventure, written with care, sensitivity and intelligence by Fabien Vehlmann and illustrated in a moodily cartoony style by Matthieu Bonhomme.

This time around, our young hero, Mr. Poulain, inherits a large amount of money from a man he never knew. He’s not the only one to be on the receiving end of this gift, but he is the only one who wants to understand his dead benefactor’s motives. In his search he travels to Ottoman Egypt (circa 1730’s) and comes face to face with mystery, adventure and the harsh realities of life in that day and age.

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The latest Hugo Pratt book, CORTO MALTESE IN SIBERIA, from IDW’s EuroComics is simply fabulous. Which comes as no surprise to anyone who reads this column. They all are. You should buy each volume, read them every couple of years, and stock extra copies to give away to friends and enemies and complete strangers. I’m not sure a longer review is necessary, but I’ll nevertheless jot down a few thoughts.

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THE WRONG HEAD is the latest stand-alone volume in the screwball adventures of Spirou and Fantasio, two globetrotting journalists for the Mosquito newspaper. Written and illustrated by Andre Franquin in 1954, this is another gorgeous and affordable episode in this delight-filled classic series.

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worldedenaHere we go. Dark Horse brings out the first volume of the eagerly anticipated MOEBIUS LIBRARY: THE WORLD OF EDENA. It’s a fantastic release, collecting the six-volume cycle Jean “Moebius” Giraud wrote, illustrated and published between 1983 and 2001, set in the Edena universe.

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EURO COMICS ROUNDUP >> Slate for Consumption

themetabaron1Continuing a long-running story in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s INCAL universe, THE METABARON — brand-new from Humanoids — is the first such volume with only a story credit to Jodo, while scripting duties have been given to Eisner nominee Jerry Frissen. Frissen, whose ZOMBIES THAT ATE THE WORLD gets a full recommendation from Euro Comics Roundup, is at his best a witty and clever writer, whose nomination to this job seemed at the very least an intriguing pick.

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